I have been pondering all things resilience for the last week and a bit. You see I was asked to write a session on this subject for a wellbeing course a very talented friend of mine is putting together. The more I have been thinking about this and the more I have been reading others thoughts that are out there, punchy quotes that is related to it, as well as looking at it from my own experience, the more I am thinking that resilience is so much more then the ability to ‘bounce back’ and getting up when you fall. Because what if our normal is about to change, or life as we know it is about to shift to something else completely. I do like phrases such as ‘It’s not how many times you get knocked down that counts, it’s how many times you get back up‘, but I do think it lacks something. I am not sure how to rewrite it to including something along the lines of getting up to sitting is also getting up, it just maybe isn’t as punchy!
When life hits us hard, and we sometimes feel like we’re drowning, managing to just get our head above the waters so we can breathe is showing great strength, even if we are still in the same rough waters for now.
It has hit me that resilience starts way before any challenges comes our way. The ability to withstand, to find joy in other things and shift focus to the things we can achieve and do is something we should proactively work on not just once the storm is here, but also before it comes. Resilience starts with compassion for ourselves, and having a balanced life. When my health deteriorated, and I suddenly couldn’t do, and failed to find the energy for, all the socialising and active stuff I loved, those things still kept me going, even if ‘the how’ had to dramatically change because of circumstances. In the darkest hours and through the hardest challenges, my resilience and keeping my head above the waters was sometimes as little as a phone call with someone, other times it was actual time spent with a friend, but most of the time it was resting enough so that when the kids where around I had enough energy to read for them or snuggle up to watch a film with them. Finding the little things we can still do to keep us going as we navigate the rough terrain that’s were resilience lies. Did I want to be more involved -yes! Did I want to be the one to teach them to ride their bikes -yes! Did I want to sit inside next to the fire reading when everyone else went out on their skis -no! But if I couldn’t give 10 out of 10, what did 5 out of 10 look like, or even a 1 out of 10 is better then giving up completely.
So if you do get knocked down compassion towards yourselves says, even if I can only lift my head off the floor for a short moment that is a victory, let’s take it from there. I never bounced back to what my life was before, I learnt that somethings are lost forever. I also learnt to appreciate the simple things in life, and cherish the things you can do. And importantly I learnt to embrace the ‘new normal’ not as second best because resilience is about finding your way.
One last thing:
A big part of preparing for the unexpected is to make sure you have great people around you who can support you when you feel you have nothing to give anymore. I am so grateful for my family and my friends!